Raleigh

The Divine Feminine | Raleigh North Carolina Photographer

I was asked by Shannon Sharpe to attend her annual Summer photo shoot, not as a shooter, but as an event coordinator, to provide any needed assistance/tips as an experienced photographer on the day of the shoot.  The event was held at Common 414 downtown Raleigh.  I was not scheduled to shoot and this was not my concept, however, Carlton aka Nicole, who was a stylist that day, asked me to capture some images of her work; she wanted the two different photography styles to be captured for her port.  Since I had not planned on shooting at this event, my game plan was simply to use the available light around me.  I didn't use any off or on camera flash to capture these images.  The images of Ai were all created using the venues lights, and the images of Shelby were created using natural light.  

A little background on the theme which was conceptualized by Wesley Yuan Shang (the photographer Nicole styled the models for at the event) and Carlton Eliza Charles aka Nicole Sue:

Yoruba spiritual beliefs are held in parts of Nigeria and Benin, some of which were introduced to and remain a mainstay in some western cultures.  In Yoruba belief, God (Olodumare - the divine creator and supreme energy) has many faces or states of existence, resulting in a pantheon of entities/Orishas.  Among the pantheon of Yoruba Orishas (deities) are Oya and Oshun; they each embody one of the manifestations of God (Olodumare) and are aspects/representations of the divine feminine energies:

  • Oya - a rapid, transitional energy; goddess of winds, tempest, change, transformation, and renewal; she is a fierce warrior, protector of women, and guardian of the realms between life and death. She is the Orisha of rebirth and new life.
  • Oshun - a calming, love energy associated with sweet, fresh waters and rivers; she heals the sick, watches over and provides assistance to the disadvantaged.  She is a progenitor of song, music, dance, fertility, and prosperity.

Acknowledgement to the following creatives for realizing the concept:

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Mike & Susan Couple Portraits @ The Marriott | Raleigh Photographer

Coordinating this photo session was such a pleasure.  Susan has over 200 couture evening gowns so finding wardrobe was not an issue.  My only job on this photo session was to ensure I made the couple look their best.  Mike was very supportive of his wife and extremely patient.

We were able to obtain permission from the Marriott in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina to photograph in the lobby.  I have photographed in that lobby before, therefore I challenged myself to not repeat the same images.

Working with this couple was simply a breeze, thank you Mike and Susan for such an amazing photoshoot.

I also want to thank my team, they were vital and help made this shoot a success.

Videographer:

  • Wayne Wonder

Assistants:

  • Mario Guzmman
  • Thang Nguyen

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BEHIND THE SCENES TRAILER

 

FULL BEHIND THE SCENES VIDEO OF

HOW TO POSE COUPLES

Photo Walk, Networking & Lunch

I had the pleasure of hosting a group of photographers for what was suppose to be a photo walk, but Orlando and Milica quickly changed that idea.  We had an amazing photoshoot in the warehouse district of downtown Raleigh.  Thank you Orlando and Milica for being so awesome and playing along with us.

The intent was to do a simple photo walk in downtown Raleigh and network with the photographers, models, mua and hair stylist in the photography group I run.  While that may have been my intent the art festival changed our plans.  Given that Orland is a local downtown Raleigh resident he knew how to get away from crowd. He suggested we go to the Warehouse District, which was definitely away from the action.  I have always heard of this area, but I have never explored it and or capture any images there.  This location was amazing and I will be going back to do another photo shoot I have planned for the end of the month.

After the photo shoot, we all went to a local restaurant in downtown Raleigh, where we sat, had lunch and got to know each other.  I really enjoyed this social gathering and getting to know the amazing folks in my group.  I look forward to doing more of these.

Orlando, a special thank you goes out to you for helping me figure out new tools that I can use for Instagram.  We old folks can use all the help we can get with this thing call social media, so thank you :-).

Models:

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Workshop | Night Portraits 2015 | North Carolina Photography

In this workshop we focused on using 3 light sources to create beautiful night portraits.

  1. On Camera Flash - This was our very first setup.  I demonstrated to the attendees how to effectively use this light source to create an image with depth and dimension.
  2. Constant Light - Our second setup.  This light source is very efficient, effective and fast.  On most photoshoots this is my go to light source.  It's very simple, what you see is what you get.
  3. Ambient Light - Our last setup.  This light source is very similar to constant light however; not all ambient light is good light and we focused on how to properly use this light source.

Thank you Alex for stepping in and being our subject for this workshop.  Below you will find a few images from the workshop.  Also, thank you to all the attendees of this workshop.

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BEHIND THE SCENES VIDEO

Award Winning Image 2015 | Ernesto Sue

Last year I proclaimed, "this is the first photo competition I have ever entered and wow! I won!”  Well, I must say, this, my second-time winning, has convinced me, I’m a bonafide photo-taker-outer.  Having pushed myself over the course of the year to augment knowledge and skill as a photographer, I’m pleased by the recognition bestowed upon me by my peers.  I have put a great deal of hard work into my craft and I will continue to do so because winning a competition does not mean it's the end of the learning journey, it's just the beginning.  I am determined as an artist to be the best that I can be.  So, while I acknowledge this win and I extend a “thank-you!” to Portrait Palooza for the opportunity to have been a part of this competition, I will not rest on my laurels at this junction in my career; instead I will continue to work toward curating my art-form.

While this year’s competition resulted in a draw, I am fine with that.

The rules for the competition were simple: every photographer had 10 minutes to shoot with a randomly chosen model.  There's no preparation, so when your name is called and you are paired with a model, it's go time and the clock starts ticking.  In the 10 minutes, each photographer had to capture three elements 1) the venue 2) the dress and 3) bouquet.  These three details were very important in this competition as the vendors/suppliers were judging the final images.  After the images were captured, we had 48 hours to submit two images to be judged; I submitted the below two, the first one is the winning image.

I couldn't have done this competition without assistance from Wesley Shang.  He arrived at the venue totally prepared to help me win this competition.  Not only did he come with the hunger to win, he came with suggestions and ideas, which were inspiring.  He so much wanted to be part of the process that I agreed to him editing the second image, albeit not the winning image, still Wesley did a phenomenal job with the re-touch.  If you are photographer, contact Wesley he's a very talented re-toucher.  Thank-you!, Wesley for the support.

Here are the vendors:
Venue - Marbles Kids Museum
Flowers by Floral Dimensions
Make Up by Ashley Bromirski - Radiant Beauty by Ashley
Hair by - Cheri Leathers of Hair by Cheri 
Jewelry  -  Sabika Jewelry Inc.- Sarah Butler, Sabika Director

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Raleigh Denim Workshop | North Carolina Photographer

I simply loved this assignment, this was amongst the best photo-shoots I did for 2014.

Carolina Style Magazine did a feature article for their Winter Book on husband and wife team Victor Lytvinenko and Sarah Yarborough, co-founders and designers of Raleigh Denim Workshop - curators of hand-made jeans in downtown Raleigh, NC.  Lawrence "Sir Byron Laurent" Spivey interviewed the design-duo for the article.  My assignment was to capture images of the environment, behind the scenes interview, and portraits of the designers/owners in their work environment.

I’m always enthused by these types of assignments, as this is where I would eventually like to take my career; working with more magazines to showcase my creativity and augment my portfolio. I was most excited about the portraits and I aimed to maximize the allotted-time with the designers/owners.  Directly after the interview, I outlined and discussed with the couple, my vision; it then took me about five minutes to execute – they took time out of their work schedule to accommodate the photo-shoot and interview, and I wanted to be sure it was time well spent, meeting the magazine’s requirements, without anyone feeling rushed.

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Harper Bazaar UK March 2015 Publication

First of all I want to say congratulation to Vesela Zarankova who is an amazing fashion designer I had the pleasure of working with in March of 2014, please check out the blog posting for all the images from that shoot.  Vesela was featured in the March 2015 Harper Bazaar UK publication and they choose to include one of the images from our shoot together.

Being published in such a well established magazine is no small effort and I am extremely humble about this wonderful news.  So what does this mean for me? It means that I acknowledge this recognition, but I also understand my work is not done.  I have to continue to push myself to improve my skills and knowledge as an artist.

So I will close with how I started this blog, congratulations once again Vesela Zarankova you certainly deserve it.  Also, I have to say congratulations to Maemae Renfrow who was the model in the image.

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Carolina Style Magazine Winter Book Publication | North Carolina Photographer

I started out 2014 not actively seeking to be published, so I was extremely honored and surprised when Carolina Style Magazine reached out in November of 2014 and ask me to be part of their limited table top book publication title "The Winter Book".  At the time I had another photo shoot lined up but it didn't fit the theme that they wanted which was Raleigh Street Style, so I quickly had to change the photo shoot and the players to accommodate the theme.  In addition to the Raleigh Street Style featured in the book I was also asked to do a second photo shoot for the owners of Raleigh Denim Workshop which was also included in the book, I will be releasing those images on another blog post, so stay tuned for that.

I reached out to Shannon Sharpe at Conversionz Makeup Studio, Nicollette Grenier for the female model, Caleb Provan for the male model,  Tina B KonTroversai for styling, Nicole Sue who was the Creative Director and the key person that helped provide the vision for this shoot.  To help complete the team Wayne Myers was also behind the camera capturing the awesome footage in the below Behind The Scenes video.  Lastly, assisting with lighting, gear etc James Thomas and David Spector generously step up to the plate to offer some incredible help on set.  Without this awesome team this shoot would not have happen in the short space of time it needed to happen, so for that I am very grateful to everyone that participated.

I mentioned the "The Winter Book" on another blog, so I will be repeating myself a little bit.  The Winter Book was put together for fashion collectors.  The book has over 200 pages of striking visual fashion editorials from Charlotte, Charleston, the Raleigh / Triangle area and New York City.  This is a limited edition book so it's poised to be a fashion collector's item.

Thank you to Carolina Style Magazine for considering me to be part of this awesome publication and thank you to the great team who helped made it happen.


Carolina Style Magazine Key handles are:

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BEHIND THE SCENES VIDEO

10 Minute Portraits | North Carolina Photographer

With a limited amount of time and no desirable location I setup Jay in front of my garage door to create the below portraits.   

With every photo shoot I have 4 things I check off in my head.  Lighting, posing, composition & expression.  The process is really quick because I have done it for so long.

1) Light -- I like to work quickly and efficiently, so my go to lighting source is natural light.  I look for the best source and quality of natural light.  If the natural light is terrible and I can't move my subject then I would introduce tools to help with the quality of the light on my subject.  Of course the tools used on every photo shoot does vary, it could be an artificial light aka strobe or speed light, a bed sheet to help diffuse the light, a video light etc. whatever it takes to get a great portrait.  That said, with these portraits I used all natural light.  

2) Posing -- giving my subject a reason to be wherever they are ensures my subject looks natural and comfortable.  In the case of Jay, he was in front of my garage door with a cool jacket, so I thought, what would I do in front of my garage door with a cool jacket and I believe the answer was just look cool.  The word "cool" could mean something different to everyone, this was my interpretation.

3) Composition -- knowing what to include and exclude in your portrait is critical to ensure your viewer is not distracted with other subjects that's not the main focus of the portrait.  Playing with angles, shapes etc helps to create an interesting composition that's pleasing to the viewer's eye.

4) Expression -- My last check mark is the mood and emotion of the portrait.  This last bit is the soul of the portrait it helps the viewer to connect with the subject.  Having the best lighting in the world, the best posing and a great composition means nothing; if there's no emotion, no spark and no mood in the portrait.  In these portraits I wanted to express how cool he was in this awesome jacket, so that's what I aimed for and hopefully achieved.

From a post processing perspective, when I was reviewing the images they all just screamed black and white to me.  Simple, no distractions and timeless.  Here's a secret, I love creating beautiful portraits but I hate post processing :-).

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Sonia | North Carolina Photographer

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BEHIND THE SCENES VIDEO

The Secret To Creating A Dramatic Image | North Carolina Photographer

"...I really like your work maybe you can give me some tips to make a more dramatic picture".  

So the above question was posted on the video below from one of my YouTube subscribers.

What makes a dramatic picture? Images can be interpreted differently depending on the viewer.  Some would argue that it's the awesome lighting, colors, subject position, composition etc. that gives an image the WOW factor.  Well, for me a dramatic image is simply the emotional connection I get when viewing an image.

Now I did provide what I believe was a practical answer to his question (see comments under the video for the answer), but after a few days of thinking about it, I figured maybe there's a simpler answer.  A great image is not created because you simply point your camera and take a picture, it takes patience, experience and knowledge.  Of course, you also need practice, understand how to manipulate light, and knowing how to use your gear, etc. However, if you don't start the creative process, you will never get that dramatic image.

For each photo shoot I do, I simply pick a location, it may not be the most desirable location, but ultimately the quality of the light guides me to that specific spot and then I start creating images.  I work with my subjects to try and pull out their personality and incorporate that into the image.  Will those be the most dramatic images?  Maybe, but once the creative process begins my percentage of getting that one dramatic image (hopefully more) increases greatly.  

There it is, that's my advise on creating a dramatic image.  Do not be intimidated or overwhelmed by the thoughts behind your creative process, just start!

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See You Later | Cary North Carolina Photographer

Jessica is leaving town :-(, so this was our see you later photo shoot, not good bye.

Our first photo shoot was almost two years ago, well February 2015 will make two years.  When we first meet I was pleasantly surprised by her bubbly personality, which wasn't the only surprise.  It turns out she was also a dancer, which we quickly incorporated into the photo shoot, as you can see from the video.   Jessica, it was a pleasure to meet you and thank you for supporting me for the pass two years through all my crazy ideas.  Good luck with your future plans I am sure you will be very successful with whatever you choose to do.

With respect to the photoshoot, I primarily used one light source "the icelight" for the entire shoot.  I also incorporated some candle light to add a little mood.  For the full length shot I used one speed light and the icelight to help open the shadows.  The light is the most important element when creating an image so once I had the light right I then moved onto posing.

With posing, I generally pose my subject to fit the environment and once I have the pose right my focus shift to getting a great expression from my subjects.  My goal was to get something timeless and elegant.

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Exposure / Lighting Workshop 2014 | Cary North Carolina Photographer

I had the pleasure of hosting some wonderful photographers and our model Carrie for my 2014 Exposure / lighting workshop.  It was sunny, then cloudy and finally rainy.  We did not backdown from any of our weather challenges, we had a great deal of fun and I hope they walked away with some new techniques to apply to their own craft. 

I did a lot of talking and not so much shooting, so below you will find the only two images I captured.

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Conversionz Makeup Studio's Annual Photo Shoot

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Photographer:
Ernesto Sue

Video Editor:
Ernesto Sue

Video:
Wayne Wonder

Stylist:
Nicole Sue

Stylist Assistant:
Charlene Banks

Models:
Jessica Lamarre
Farrah Helen Beck
Nancy Tuck Nickel

Hair / Make Up:
Donnicia Whitsett 
Shannon Conversionz Sharpe

Assistants:
John Wooley
Zack Umphrey

Location:
Mosaic

BEHIND THE SCENES VIDEO

Farrah Helen Beck | Raleigh North Carolina Photograher

Assistant: Sonja Swanson

Video Assistant: Agnes Lichanska

Model: Farrah Helen Beck

Hair & MUA: Deatrice Snuggs

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BEHIND THE SCENES VIDEO

Harish Wedding Anniversary | North Carolina Photographer

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